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Exsanguis : Endzeit

Exsanguis try to be dark and doomy, and they do have some ideas of their own; but at the end, they fail to captivate.

Endzeit is the second release by Exsanguis from Switzerland, a band whose style of music obviously roots in Doom Metal but is hard to categorise more precisely. Unfortunately, this does not mean that we are dealing with an original and particularly interesting release here – quite the contrary, the lack of identity and maturity gives the impression of a very young band looking for their niche, making their first attempts at creative songwriting. They seem to have formed back in 1999, but strangely enough, I hear no vestiges of the experience one could assume after so many years.

The songs hold very few surprises. Slow to mid-paced throughout, everything flows along quite homogeneously. The occasional double bass drumming and fast guitar picking does not introduce any aggression but merely makes the arrangements slightly more dynamic. Therefore, the album lacks the heaviness and intensity which would qualify it as a Death Doom release.

The guitars play simple and repetitive riffs most of the time. Sometimes melodic harmony lines are used. Drums and bass are kept very basic, as well. Fairly “soft” blackish screaming dominates the vocal performance apart from some rare instances of deeper growling and a clean choir in “Herbsterwachen”. There are two or three moments when a slight groove enters the simple and steady rhythmic patterns and creates some variation. In combination with the clear, but rather powerless production, this all adds up to a very bland sounding release which hardly makes any emotional impact.

How are we to label this, then? Black Doom would not be appropriate either, for there are no elements of Black Metal apart from the screams, not even in the atmosphere created. Generally speaking, there are only slight hints of a mournful and bleak atmosphere anyway – Endzeit fails to captivate in this respect, too. Despite the musical elements and moderate tempo, I am thus even tempted to doubt the Doom label altogether in this case, since a certain “doomy” atmosphere should be a prerequisite. It appears, though, that the band members themselves conceive differently of their own stylistic identity, as the slogan “Carpe Doom” (in blood-red print) in the booklet suggests.

Despite all of this, I do not want to be too harsh. At least Exsanguis have tried to be dark and doomy, and they do have some ideas of their own after all. The use of an accordion in “Wüetisheer” sounds very promising and has a lot of potential in this stylistic context, for instance. Also, the acoustic instrumental “Allhier (Trauer)” as well as the acoustic passage in “Die Erinnerungen an Winternächte“ are well executed and convey much of the atmosphere which is lacking elsewhere on the album. The song “Herbsterwachen” with its choirs and melancholic guitar lines is probably the strongest hint at this kind of atmosphere the band might have been able to create, had they tried harder. These are elements to be elaborated on for future releases. On this album, the songwriting is still too weak and immature to let the potential come out.

On the whole, I believe that Exsanguis ought to take their time and further develop their songwriting skills before recording another album. If they worked out song structures and dynamics more thoroughly and made more use of the interesting ideas they have, they might arrive at a solid and recommendable release some day. But until that day comes, I do not know whom to recommend this to, even though it hurts to say this.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Von Wahn und Dunkelheit [Of Delirium and Darkness]
2. Der Tod allerwegs [Ubiquitous Death]
3. Wüetisheer [the Wild Hunt]
4. Unser Blut… [Our Blood]
5. Allhier (Trauer) – Instrumental [At the same place (Mourning)]
6. Herbsterwachen [Awakening of Autumn]
7. Endzeit [Endtime]
8. Die Erinnerungen an Winternächte [The Memories of Winter Nights]

Duration : Approx. 38 minutes

Visit the Exsanguis bandpage.

Reviewed on 2011-05-31 by Dominik Sonders
No God Only Pain
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